“Tonic? Singular? Don’t you mean Gin and Tonic?” I hear you murmur….. Nope. This is definitely a post all about tonic of the chicken variety today; mainly because I have a mound of comfrey leaves waiting to be put to good use and a lovely herb spiral loaded with goodies of the green and nutritious kind.
I like to give my “ladies” a little health tonic boost throughout the year but especially coming into winter. They’ve had a hard time of it this summer with the heat and the endless drought. It put them off the lay and many began to moult; a right scruffy bunch they looked too! Chickens need extra nutrition especially whilst laying. It makes sense to offer a herb tonic to keep your hen in tip top condition because that means your eggs will be tip top too.
You can make your own homemade tonic and tailor it to your chickens’ needs; it can also be free too if you have the right herbs already growing in your garden. Not that I’m a cheapskate…I just love a bargain!
This is what I generally use in my chicken tonic:
Perk Me Up Tonic for Jaded Chickens
2 handfuls of marjoram
2 handfuls of sage
2 handfuls of chickweed
1 handful of Pineapple sage
1 handful of Comfrey
1 handful of marigold/calendular flowers
1 handful of parsley
Chop up the herbs and add to usual feed or simply throw around the coop as a healthy snack and a fun game for your chookies! You can dry these herbs for use in winter if you like. Then you will always have a steady supply. I do this with calendular flowers in the summer as they are great for making rich orange egg yolks.
In the summer when flowers are plentiful I add any of the following :
Violets or Heartsease
To help you on your way here is a list of herbs and their benefits :
Chickweed – packed to the brim with nutrients
Comfrey – rich in protein and a good source of potassium and calcium
Dandelion greens – immune system
Dill – relaxant, anti-oxidant
Fennel and garlic – laying stimulant (garlic will taint the taste of your eggs)
Lavender – stress reliever, insecticide
Lemon balm – stress reliever, antibacterial
Marigold – yellow yolks, insecticide
Marjoram – laying stimulant
Mint – insecticide
Nettle – high in nutrients and vitamins
Oregano – stimulant, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal
Pineapple sage – aids nervous system
Rosemary – insecticide
Sage – anti-oxidant, anti-parasitic, general health promoter
Thyme – anti-parasitic, anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial
Yarrow – anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, stress reliever
Enjoy making your own chicken tonic. If you’re short on time simply tie together some silverbeet (chard), spinach and herbs and hang in the chicken coop. You will amuse and delight your feathered friends whilst giving them some nutritional goodness too – everyone’s a winner!